Sample Job Description: Chief Data Officer

Chief Data Officer (CDO)

A CDO provides vision and strategy for all data management activities. He or she is a champion for global data management, governance, quality, and vendor relationships across the enterprise. The CDO oversees the enterprise information management (EIM) program, data scientists and data stewards, and data service providers.

1. Establish Policies and Standards

The CDO establishes data policies, standards, organization, and enforcement of EIM concepts. The CDO also oversees and reports on data metrics, and has executive-level responsibility for all enterprise information/data management budgeting and initiatives.

2. Manage Data Governance

Here, the CDO must organize and implement policies, procedures, structures, roles, and responsibilities that outline and enforce rules of engagement, decision rights, and the accountabilities for the effective management of information assets.

3. Study and Maximize Data Quality

The CDO must determine the company’s current data quality and maturity levels – of which there are five. (1) Uncertainty, which typically involves the organization stumbling over data defects as programs crash and employees complain. There’s no proactive improvement process in place. (2) Awakening, during which a few individuals acknowledge the dirty data and try to incorporate quality in their projects before formal enterprise-wide support arrives. (3) Enlightenment is when the organization starts to address the root causes of dirty data through program edits and data quality training. A data quality group usually emerges here. (4) Wisdom arrives as the organization proactively works on preventing future data defects, and data quality incentives arrive. (5) Certainty emerges as the organization shifts to an optimization cycle – continuously monitoring and improving its data defect-prevention process.

4. Establish Standards

A CDO must establish enterprise standards – including a uniform and repeatable system development lifecycle methodology. For instance, there’s a common set of standards for data naming, abbreviations, and acronyms.

5. Master Business Intelligence

This is not about buying a single, most effective business intelligence tool. Rather, business intelligence is about establishing an architecture and a collection of integrated decision-support applications and databases – providing the business community easy access to business data.

6. Explore Data Warehousing

While definitions vary, data warehousing can involve a single massive database or a collection of data marts that are integrated. The data warehouse strategy should provide consistent, clean, and integrated data. Executives, in turn, use the resulting information to make more informed decisions.

7. Master Data Management

Master data is how the CDO and his or her team describe real-world entities – customers, products, employees, suppliers, etc. Master data management (MDM) leverages a range of tools to implement how you capture, integrate, and share that MDM information.

8. Embrace Enterprise Data Modeling

EDM often begins as a high-level conceptual data model showing core business objectives (entities) and their data relationships. The EDM model may never be completed, but it still delivers value by allowing CDOs to discover and resolve data discrepancies among different views and implementations of the same data.

9. Explore Metadata Management

An example of metadata is the information embedded in a digital picture – such as the brand and model of the camera, the date and time the picture was taken, etc. In business, you need to capture the right types of metadata – such as business names, definitions and valid domain values; or perhaps ownership (CFO, HR); or security settings (public, company confidential, HR only, senior management only).

10. Navigate Unstructured and Big Data

Unstructured data includes social media, emails, medical records, pictures, videos, and sensor data like RFID. A CDO must take inventory of all that unstructured data – the big data challenge – determining its format, security, ownership, and quality. The result could be new storage needs. A CDO must also determine which unstructured data should – and shouldn’t – be captured.

11. Weigh Data in the Cloud

Moving data off premises to a cloud services provider (CSP) often is an attractive option – especially for startups that don’t want to build their own storage infrastructure. But the CDO must weigh variables like privacy, security, compliance, ownership, and performance questions tied to cloud storage.

12. Establish Business Performance Metrics

The CDO’s team must build business performance dashboards – a business performance management system. It provides timely information and insights that enable employees to improve decisions, optimize processes and plans, and work proactively.

13. Maintain Security and Privacy

Determine and enforce specific security and privacy requirements for each piece of data – especially as it relates to privacy laws, industry regulations, and corporate compliance mandates.

14. Develop Intellectual Capital

Here, the CDO and the team document how the business is run – including policies and procedures that can be shared in training materials; glossaries; name and contact rosters; and even gathering information from employees’ heads to deal with day-to-day problems and more.

15. Establish CDO Credibility

More and more pundits state that the CDO position is not a technical position – and therefore should not report to a CIO or CTO in IT. Rather, CDOs increasingly report to CFOs, COOs, or CEOs – working with the executive team and CIO to align business and technology initiatives.